but the size of the fight in the dog.
I do not know who said that originally, but HBO put those words into the mouth of John Turturro playing New York Yankees manager Billy Martin in The Bronx is Burning.
The main problem with western liberal pro-Israel advocacy is that not only is it a small dog, but it is a weak dog, as well. The dog is small and the size of the fight In the dog is also small. Sniveling, even. One need only peruse the writings of Jeremy ben-Ami or Thomas Friedman or Peter Beinart to see the truth of this.
Pro-Israel progressive-left Jewish advocacy is constantly on the defensive and one cannot win a fight if one only does defense. But it’s more than that, really. The real problem with progressive-left, pro-Israel advocates is that they tend to think that Israel is guilty as hell, which is why they can never win the argument. So, when they do go on the offensive it is against Israel, not her enemies.
More and more I am convinced that progressive-left Jewry is murdering Israel. They claim to be pro-Israel and they are often willing to stand up to the very worst smears against the Jewish state, such as the apartheid smear, but ultimately progressive-left Jewish advocacy is both counterproductive and weak because they truly believe that Israel is guilty to the core and thereby immoral. The reason that they believe Israel is guilty (and thereby immoral) is because they are ignorant of Jewish history in the Middle East and because they use the anti-Israel terminology created by their enemies.
Pro-Israel progressive-left Jews, both diaspora and Israeli, have forsaken Jewish history because they are terrified of being called mean names by their fellow progressives for even noticing the fact of thirteen hundred years of Jewish second and third class citizenship under the boot of Muslim imperialism within the system of dhimmitude. Because one cannot discuss the history of dhimmitude among western progressives without being smeared as an Islamophobe cowardly Jewish progressives and leftists refuse to do so.
Can you imagine if African-Americans were afraid to discuss the history of slavery or Jim Crow because white Americans would call them racist? This is what we are dealing with on the Jewish left.
And it is for this reason that western anti-Semitic anti-Zionists can go on the offensive by perpetually smearing Israel as a racist, imperialist, colonialist, apartheid, militaristic, racist state. This is what Israel’s progressive-left enemies, in Europe and the United States, claim about your country. What they constantly tell people is that Israel is immoral for its allegedly poor treatment of the hopeless and hapless and perfectly innocent “indigenous” Arab population who want nothing so much in this life as to tend their sacred olive groves in peace.
If you want to understand why so many people in this world despise the Jewish State of Israel, and thus despise the Jews as a whole, you have to understand that there are many millions of people throughout the world, including G-d knows how many Jews, who tell one another how immoral the Jewish state is with the obvious implication of how immoral the Jewish people are. This is not a phenomenon limited to the Arab-Muslim Middle East, but obviously rife within western societies, as well.
The claim, sometimes explicit and sometimes implied, is that before and after World War II these vicious Jews marched out of Europe and stole “Palestinian” land, ethnically-cleansing the region of its “indigenous” Arab population. It is a moral claim which resonates with the morally obsessed, although entirely immoral, progressive-left political movement.
The Jews are always going to be a small dog in the fight, but we can have a big fight in the progressive-left Jewish dog if we change the paradigm by reclaiming our history in the Middle East. The historical fact of the matter is that the Jews of the Middle East lived as persecuted dhimmis for thirteen centuries.
In the treatise Lightning Bolts Against the Jews, al Majlisi, perhaps the most influential Muslim cleric in the Savafid Shi’ite theocracy in Persia, made a list of the laws concerning the dhimmis that recall the revulsion towards blacks that white racists in the United States once openly and officially expressed. It’s as if the Jews and other dhimmis were composed of an entirely alien and polluting substance.
“And, that they [the dhimmis] should not enter the pool while a Muslim is bathing at the public baths. …It is also incumbent upon Muslims that they should not accept from them victuals with which they had come into contact, such as distillates, which cannot be purified. If something can be purified, such as clothes, if they are dry, they can be accepted, they are clean. But if they [the dhimmis] had come into contact with those clothes in moisture they should be rinsed with water after being obtained. …It would also be better if the ruler of the Muslims would establish that all infidels could not move out of their homes on days when it rains or snows because they would make Muslims impure.”…
For Muslims it is important that the payment of the jizya be done in the most humiliating manner possible. An Nawawi, a Shafi’ite jurist from the 13th century, explained it like this:
“The infidel who wishes to pay his poll tax must be treated with disdain by the collector: the collector remains seated and the infidel remains standing in front of him, his head bowed and his back bent. The infidel personally must place the money on the scales, while the collector holds him by the beard, and strikes him on both cheeks.”
Israel was not only a reaction against white western national anti-Semitism in Europe, but also an anti-colonial reaction against vicious Muslim imperialism in the Middle East. Dhimmitude represents the backdrop out of which Zionism emerged for the majority Jewish population of Israel, the Mizrahim. So long as we refuse to acknowledge this obvious historical fact we can never win the debate among western progressives who see Israel as the oppressor of the innocent Arabs.
We must therefore change the paradigm of the discussion and in order to do that the terms that we use must reflect Jewish history, not Arab propaganda. For example, when progressive Zionists talk about the “West Bank” they are using a Jordanian term designed to erase four thousand years of Jewish history in Judea and Samaria. When progressive-Zionists use the term “Occupation” (often with a capital “O” in order to suggest that it is the Great Mother of All Occupations) they are describing methods of Jewish self-defense as a form of aggression.
Israel can never win the argument so long as its progressive-left advocates ignore Jewish history under Arab imperial rule and insist upon discussing the issue in the very terms created by Israel’s enemies.
While the dog in the fight is small, the fight in the Israeli dog is tremendous.
For the reasons outlined above, however, the same cannot be said of the Chihuahua of progressive-left Jewry.
Mike Lumish is the proprietor of the non-partisan pro-Israel blog, Israel Thrives.